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Friday, January 7, 2011

Seeking Peace: Recovery

I have been spending hours reading the book I have been sharing by Mary Pipher. I constantly underline things. Things at the time I plan to share. Still amazed at how the author has written a book that I normally would not read, yet seem to be connecting to in so many ways. Then I re-read and well decide I am not entirely sure I want to , or that I am not quite ready, and at times that perhaps you the reader do not care to read all the self discovery I am currently writing about ( Yes, I still hear doubts in my head no matter how many supportive comments come my way). So it was hard over the last two days to decide if I wanted to leave it where I did and move on to other things or not.

I did not want to leave you hanging in this journey of mine, but have decided to leave out a few chapters and move on to the second half of the book titled Second Lifetime. Today's chapter Recovery ( 2002-2003) . It takes place at the height of her meltdown. A turning point for her. I shall share the passages that stood out to me. Spoke to me. Hoping that perhaps they will do two things at once, tell you more about me as well as make a connection to you or someone you know. Inspiring your own journey or to count your blessings that you have no need of such a journey.

" I made another important decision: I was finished with self improvement projects I had launched my whole life. All my goals to better myself had become gaols, prisons that kept me from accepting myself. My constant efforts to improve had been a form of self aggression. Now I wanted to accept myself as I was. Psychologist Carl Rogers formulated what he called "the paradox of change," which is that people can change only when in an environment of utter acceptance and regard. I wanted to create a mental environment in which I viewed myself as someone who deserved to be understood and cherished, rather than criticized and improved. My goal was healing and self-reclamation."  

I have as mentioned many times worked on improving myself. I try improving what I see as wrong, not working on the outside as well as the inside. Even this journey is of course one of self improvement so that perhaps I can learn to accept myself. Even though the final goal is to be happy, positive, change my life for the better on all levels , learn to accept and live with what I can not change. But all boils down to not accepting self.

I have never been very good at that. I think because many people in my life never truly accepted me for me. Family members to friends always told me I was not good enough, not doing or acting or dressing in a way that suited me or them. When I would try to find me, the true me, someone was there to shoot it down. So I think on many levels I learned to do it to myself before they could do it to me. I was very good at it. So good I found myself doing it to others, even when I did not really mean to. Have worked for years to stop doing that. I think I am getting a bit better at it.

I do not want to give up on changing myself for the better, to be a happier, more positive person. But I do want to stop obsessing over appearance. I need to learn to love myself and appreciate all the great things about me and even embrace the not so great, such as my chronic pain, my thinning hair, and I fear daily that the time is coming, my toothless mouth. I want to learn to love my "shell",not obsess about it. Perhaps in doing this will create that similar environment that the author speaks about and then I can achieve the important goals of being happy and positive.

"It helps to realize we are not alone. One thing I like to do is send my silent good wishes to people all over the world who have problems exactly like my own. Contexts may change, but emotions are universal. We can always pray for the people who are feeling as we at any given moment.....As I pray for others who suffered, I join an ancient and populous demographic group. My heart softens and I can feel mercy for us all." 

What a wonderful thing to remember to do. To make part of our day. I am horrible, I shall admit at planning to pray for people, and then forgetting. So now it does not matter where or when I am , if I think about it, I just do it. I feel better for it. I also write down the people I want to pray for and in a way that for me is sending up that prayer to God for that person. Knowing we are not alone, and that there is someone out there sending up an extra little word to God on our behalf is just such a heart lifting thing.  A simple, easy act , one that really takes so little effort, so little time, can have such a changing effect on the person praying and the prayed about. How could you not feel a bit happier about just about everything by doing this powerful thing on a regular basis?? And like the author says about feel mercy for us all, well that also to me means including myself, feeling mercy for me. That had such a powerful ah-ha moment for me.

" We all have our little rituals. The winter of my crisis, I understood I needed to reconnect with the natural world every day. that harsh winter, I walked many miles every week in the frozen prairie. I was able to generate a few endorphins, but more important, I connected to a deeper, slower time.....I found great comfort in my familiar routines and rituals. "

I must be near nature. I grew up that way. Being an only child and living on acreage with very few friends that were not four legged, I learned to connect with nature and to really enjoy it. The simple, yet complex beauty of it all. As a child it was working the land with my Great Uncle and Grandpa, growing fresh fruits and vegies, raising livestock for our meals, collecting eggs, all of it to be on our table each day, I loved it. I spent summers picking raspberries, or laying in fields of buffalo grass watching hawks soar above me and dragon flies flit from place to place. I would take long walks near a local swamp that had trails weaving through groves of trees, lost in thoughts. As an adult I loved to work in my own garden, from when the sun would come up til the sun would go down I was out there, blistered hands and sunburn lines I was in heaven. Even when the fibro became too much often for me to do so, I would still putter in the garden, or sit on the porch and watch the birds. If I was not doing that I was walking for hours on our local beach , it was a place I could go and truly relax...find calm, peace and come home happy and ready to face anything.

 When we moved to Texas I was stuck inside most of the time between the bugs and the heat/humidity or cold. But I still connected with nature. We had dozens of birds, squirrels and even field mice and a couple wood ducks we fed. I could spend all day watching them come and go from the yard. No matter what mood I was in, even when I had my own major meltdown, I could count on those critters cheering me up.

Once back in California, well there just was not the wild life where we lived. I was always so excited when I would see a squirrel or even a bird . Just made my day. So to seek out nature more I would drive to a local trail and walk it. The trail followed a creek and there was birds, squirrels and nature everywhere you looked, even if the sound of the traffic near by was always present. But soon the hills became too much for me and then not having the gas money to fill my tank to get over there, even though it was not that far, it became something I slowly stopped doing. Fast forward to an apartment , surrounded by city streets and very little in way of birds or squirrels to be seen out our windows, and I became less and less happy. I needed that connection.

I walk nearly each day, often the same exact route... if it is not raining I am out there. I stop and watch what birds I see, I hope to spot the jack rabbits in the open fields, smell flowers in the outer edges of peoples gardens and when warm enough seek out a near by bike trail for the sound of running water and perhaps to see a wild turkey or two. Then, when that happens I am at my true bliss level...happiness is easiest to achieve. This is MY happiness ritual /routine. I always say if I could I would by a farm again and move out to the middle of nowhere, as long as once in a while I could have a touch of city life, and had my internet and TV for the night time, I would be in my personal heaven and would finally feel I had found my comfort zone. The goal is to find that here where we are now.

"Tincture of time and reduction of stimulation heal troubled minds and over worked adrenaline systems. The most critical step is to stop banging ourselves in the head. We won't stop hurting ourselves until we lay down the hammers. .... We all have within us the capacity not only to heal from crises but also to turn our sorrow into something new and strong. In fact, true growth requires spending time outside one's comfort zone. " 

I truly have lived through a crisis over the last few years , between health ( that one will be on going) and finances, or there lack of and loosing much of what was "our" American dream. I have on a regular basis banged myself upside the head over and over . I really want to stop that. I need to stop that. I want the healing to continue. Yes, I already feel it has begun.

" With crisis, some people dig deeper into their entrenched identities and hide in the pup tent of their old beliefs . Many people simply numb themselves with television or self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. Some people blame all their pain on others and never examine their own role in creating problems. Other sufferers shrink their worlds into something small and manageable but actually quite false....For all people, regardless of the crisis, the cure is always growth." 

I am certainly guilty of all the above, with the exception of drugs. But add into that, I also blame myself for nearly everything, rarely blaming others for what is wrong in my life. I tend to carry that burden on my back. It is through this journey that I would love to at least lessen that load.

A closing thought...or two.
"To move closer to God is to move closer to everything, both joy and sorrow, light and darkness." Parker Palmer

"Darkness and loss signal to us more clearly than anything else that it is time to expand our point of view." Mary Pipher, Seeking Peace. 

I have lived through much darkness my entire life, even more so in recent years. But I agree because of it, I have expanded my point of view to encompass so many wonderful things I never thought I would, and in doing so the darkness lifts a bit  more each and every day.

1 comment:

  1. I get my grounding from nature and love my times in my yard and hands covered with dirt from the garden... Maybe you could start a little indoor herb garden, or something, if you haven't already... you could nurture each other... come visit when you can...

    Oh, just changed my blog to a domain address at in case you want to fix your link.


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